Seen, Read 2015

December 23, 2015

In a small recess of the Internet, filed under the heading “Salon des Refusés” – “exhibition of rejects” – is a list compiled by director Steven Soderbergh. A consummate consumer of culture high and low, Soderbergh assiduously documented his watching reading, and listening experiences for an entire year. He has a voracious diet.


I am not an exacting, highly organized individual – when peers ask what I am watching or reading, I usually lie. Mostly it’s because I can’t remember. Occasionally, I’ll offer selections that make me look cultured. Who wants to divulge that they binge-watched “Jane The Virgin” for the last week? Better to claim Top of the Lake expanded your view on what auteurs can achieve through segmented form. So I started keeping track of everything — to help with recommendations and to monitor how much media I was consuming, of course.

Does your pot-smoking financial-advisor neighbor need a book recommendation? Point him in the direction of Thomas Pynchon’s meandering psychedelic novel “Inherent Vice” and neglect to mention that you put a hole in the wall with the spine of Abraham Verghese’s medical saga “Cutting for Stone” after the final chapter left you crying in a papasan. Grandpa’s friend at the V.A. droning on about how he misses the days of “Walker Texas Ranger” and waxing poetic about the conservative hagiography of Clint Eastwood? Gesticulate with your Grain Belt Premium that maybe he should try the excellent historical dramas “Deadwood” or “Justified,” the Elmore Leonard-based series piloted by the drawling Timothy Olyphant. Is that old classmate — who took a single film class but skipped the majority of the semester — posting “highly intellectual” indie film reviews on his Facebook page again, almost purposefully antagonizing you into responding? Post a link to the article he plagiarized and mention that maybe he should check out Sean Baker’s raw portrait of Los Angeles in “Tangerine.”

Like all red-blooded Americans, I binge. Whether it’s the complete works of Japan’s subtle surrealist, Haruki Murakami, or too much poutine at Sunday brunch, my appetite doesn’t discriminate – it all gets digested. My media-consumption log offers a range of diverse creative works and at times looks like the incoherent selections of a man possessed, but offers an honest glimpse into what I’ve seen and read in 2015. Take a look. It isn’t all that good.